Flu (Influenza): Brief Version
The flu (influenza) is caused by a virus. The virus infects the nose, throat, and air passages to the lungs. Your child will probably have a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Your child may have more muscle pain, headache, fever, and chills than if he had a cold. Flu gets spread when people sneeze, cough, or touch something that a sick person touched. If your child is between 6 months and 18 years old, he should get a flu shot.
How can I take care of my child?
- Fever or aches.
Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 6 hours or ibuprofen (Advil) every 8 hours for discomfort or fever over 102°F (39°C).
Do not give your child aspirin.
- Cough or hoarseness.
Give cough drops to your child if he is older than 6 years old. If your child is over 1 year old, you can give him honey (1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed). Never give honey to babies. If you do not have honey, use corn syrup.
- Sore throat.
Give hard candy to children over 6 years old. Warm chicken broth may also help children over 1 year old.
- Stuffy nose.
Put warm-water or saline nosedrops into your child's nose. Then have the child blow his nose or you can use a suction bulb. This will open most blocked noses.
Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.
Call your child's doctor right away if:
- Your child has trouble breathing.
- Your child starts to act very sick.
Call your child's doctor during office hours if:
- Your child has other problems such as an earache, sinus pain or pressure, or a fever lasting over 3 days.
- You have other questions or concerns.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-04
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.